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It is not the liberal left that is the problem. It is the far right xenophobia, coupled with neoliberalism and climate skeptism that are ruining the world as we know it.
You could not be more wrong there used to be a dichotomy between the left and the right but now the political divide is between the authoritarians and the libertarians and some of the worst authoritarians are in fact the so called progressives who have thus far dominated the social media and who have been more than ready to dogpile any one who challenges their ideas or who refuses to endorse their orthodoxies. The reason that Trump is likely to win the US election is that the very people the authoritarian progressives have tries to silence are rising up and saying that they will not be ignored any more. The mane calling and attempts to shame people by calling dissenter xenophobes bigots or racists simply no longer works as populists like Milo are leading a a new surge of political engagement by people who have previously just looked the other way.
The progressive left have been trying for a generation to undermine the notion of the nation state and in the light of many wars between nations that had a certain logic to it but the problem comes form their rather loopy idea that all nations are equal in their social virtues and that all cultures are the same with maybe only some superficial differences. The cold hard light of political reality demonstrates that this is at best naive nonsense. There is simply no equivalence between a religiously motivated repressive totalitarian state and a mature secular western democracy. To denounce anyone who points this out as a “xenophobe” as progressives so often do is the height of stupidity. It also shows how weak “progressiveness” has become.
Finally we come to the issue of “climate change” which has largely been driven by the former communists who moved into environmental causes after the collapse of communism in the eighties, to them this cause is just another vehicle through which they hope to acquire global hegemony. and its a mechanism that many now pay lip service too but few really believe. Its also a mask for the real global problem of over population. But we are on the cusp of a rather radical solution to that which I expect to be some sort of global pandemic that will devastate the their third world in particular , I use to think it would be HIV/aids but now I think that it will be something more mundane that will piggy back on the growing resistance of Bactria to antibiotics, either way expect to see Africa, south east Asia the middle east and South America severely affected much more than the first world because well ordered societies will be better able to respond to such challenges than those which are corrupt and chaotic. The black death reduced some populations by 2/3 in the middle ages but we may see an even higher death toll because any modern pandemic will spread far quicker thanks to global air travel.
Any way I digress the point is that there is value in having the discrete entity called a nation where the people have more in common that they have that is different, the progressive idea of a borderless world has been a total disaster that has seen previously stable and cohesive societies import cohorts of people who have no desire to assimilate into the indigenous culture instead they have formed ghettos that give provide the breeding ground for nihilism and hatred for the host culture. Calling that out is simply entirely valid self defense rather than “xenophobia” and we will see more of it as the “progressives” are shown more and more to be in reality “regressive” and that their ideology is profoundly illiberal as a consequence.
DePaul University Tour Shut Down by Protestors, Lead by Self-Styled Free Speech Warrior Milo Yiannopoulos
May 27, 2016
At DePaul, the self-styled free speech warrior and his fans once again did not prove to be as robust as their rhetoric. When protesters arrived they begged for the intercession of cops, and cartoonish redpill tough guy Matt Forney complained about being manhandled.
What would you expect any speaker to do if their event was interrupted? Get the audience to beat up the hecklers? You can’t have it both ways when the police are tasked with keeping order and they fail to do this it is reasonable to be less than happy about it.
Nevertheless, the event received the usual hagiographic treatment on Breitbart and the Daily Caller, and once again Yiannopoulos was able to portray himself as the alt-right’s courageous truth-teller.
Which begs the question “is Milo telling the truth here?” Personally I would say that he is but lets see if Wilson even explores that question here
He was fortunate, in a way. On his current US campus tour, alleged threats to his free speech, and the back and forth between Yiannopoulos and his antagonists have been the only thing sustaining interest in the whole enterprise.
Hmm lets see If you hive a hall or lecture space and have your ability to perform is compromised by “activists” then isn’t that by definition his free speech being denied?
I know because I attended a Milo event at which there was no left reception committee. When he appears unchallenged, the Milo show is the dampest of squibs.
At the University of Oregon, where I saw him, it was not clear that he was especially grateful for the platform, or the lack of interruptions.
“Your professors are cunts, on the whole,” he tells the mostly student audience in an almost-full auditorium, “limp-wristed, pacifistic, sandal-wearing weirdos.”
It goes on like this for hours – the epithets are relentless and the provocations artless. Without hostile interruptions, Yiannopoulos’s act, which unfortunately relies entirely on him speaking, is a one-note affair.
So much for Wilson as a reporter! So much for Wilson as the man with a handle on the online traditions of shit posting and mischief making .
The Oregon engagement begins, like the others, with a one on one interview. Tonight his interlocutor is the co-president of the local branch of Young Americans for Liberty, who are sponsoring the evening. Then comes an open question and answer session, and Milo finishes up by giving fans an opportunity to take selfies with one of the right’s rising stars.
Its a tour around many campuses and were it any other type of tour there would not be any complaint about it having a running order or even a script that if followed on any of the legs of the tour.
But right now, that’s a long way off. First, we have to wade through the redpill boilerplate that constitutes Milo’s political views.
“There is an assault in this country”, he informs his interviewer, “on straight white men”, waged by “middle class women and cucks.” In this case the latter is being used to describe male feminists, who “don’t need to be castrated, they’ve done it themselves.”
Moving onto rape culture, which he considers a myth, he asks, with a theatrical moan, “Is there anything worse than consent?”
Wilson makes no secret of his disdain for Milo’s opinions, as is his right, however he undermines his own argument here by not even exploring the possibility that Milo has both the facts and the truth on the side of his talking points here. Wilson simply accepts all of the feminist orthodoxies without a single question
These opinions are odious, of course, but in another way utterly banal. Most adults will find Yiannopoulos’s show exactly as transgressive as a dirty joke told by a racist uncle. He wants desperately to cause deep offence to the left, and with some campus-based comrades, he clearly succeeds. Others will struggle to muster an eye-roll. I’ve heard pithier put-downs of progressives on Australian bar stools.
Why are his opinions “odious” would be an obvious thing to follow the opening claim of this paragraph but instead of that Wilson goes for that old favorite of the progressive the ad hominiem argument. The thing is having watched a lot of Milo’s shtick in his you tube vids he clearly gets a good response to his talk, his interviews and debates all show him to be witty clever and generally amusing. He may not be funny to the cohort of Wilson and his friends but as they are among the targets of Milo’s sarcasm, satire and wit it would be surprising if Wilson and his friends enjoyed being so mercilessly mocked.
So why are all these other people laughing?
After all, even if you agree with this stuff, there’s not much here that’s new. Milo described the alt-right, for which he as a kind of spokesman, as a group which is “young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies”.
But anyone who’s ever listened to Michael Savage or Mark Levin, or even waited around in a small-town barber shop has already encountered all of this guff at punishing length. If there’s a difference, it’s purely a matter of presentation.
Students of the art of humor will tell you that there are only a handful of proto -jokes and all of the huge lexicon of laughs derive from this small seed, so its not always what you say as much as how you tell them Milo’s shtick works because he is a consummate communicator and his audience likes what he says. Wilson is simply unable to do likewise because of his own political baggage and intellectual investment in left wing progressive ideology.
His core politics are similar to those of the mens rights movement – he hates feminists and claims they’re waging a war on the *real* victims, men. But everyone on the American right pretty much agrees with this. He calls lesbians names and questions whether there should be further Muslim immigration. But these are not novel sentiments either.
On the subject of feminism this interview with Dave Rubin explains far better what it is about contemporary feminism that deserves scorn and strong criticism. Wilson’s vilification and character assassination is based on the faulty belief that Milo objects to the now achieved (in western countries) goals of first and second wave feminism.
For sheltered campus conservatives in provincial college towns, though, it all sounds terribly naughty, even revolutionary. Not because of what’s being said, which is “redpill” boilerplate, but because of who is saying it.
Has Wilson not heard of the internet?
In an irony whose full implications escape his audience – who are not, on the whole, well-attuned to such things – his identity is the only real value he adds to an otherwise bog-standard litany of complaints.
Its seems to me that Wilson can not cope with the idea that am man can be both Gay and conservative
The conservative ecosystem is variously populated by talk-radio mastodons; dessicated, reptilian columnists; and near-vegetative think-tankers with about as much charisma as their lanyards. In this Jurassic world, Milo can self-consciously promote himself as something disruptive and new.
For someone who claims to be a “reporter” his political allegiances are doing great deal of harm to his objectivity
If Wilson’s profile picture is anything to go by Wilson would not qualify as any sort of fashionista himself, that said though if one takes the time to review Milo’s various media appearances its clear that the man is actually quite good at dressing for the occasion, most serious events will see Milo wearing a well cut suit but on the current tour he can of course be more frivolous.
Tonight, in pink t-shirt, bling, gaudy trainers and lightly distressed denim, he looks like he’s beamed in from the “boys casual wear” section of a decade-old Macy’s catalogue. Only the buttoned-down Randroids who run YAL could think that his frosted tips and ostentatious indoor sunglasses are anything other than normcore-gone-wrong.
Its called dressing for the occasion Mr Wilson and playing the game of political performance. Frankly I would have thought that asocial media pundit such as your self would understand that all politics is a performance art-form then again I can’t help thinking that Wilson would be lauding any “progressive” using Milo’s tactics here maybe this explains Wilson’s clear rancor because he simply can’t get his head around anyone other than one of his fellow progressives being so able to exploit the social media the way that Milo so clearly does.
The really entrancing thing for America’s reactionary dweebs and young fogeys is hearing this from a gay, British man in his thirties, rather than say, Rush Limbaugh.
It means that for an hour or two, they can put aside their niche anxieties about creeping sharia, or who is using which public restroom, and imagine that they are part of something subversive.
What Wilson fails to understand here is that while his progressive cronies have long held the upper hand in social discourse on the campuses of first world universities to be a conservative and to be openly Gay about it IS a subversive act just as much as being a communist was for my own generation
The bonus is that even in making this pitch, he comforts his audience with the knowledge that they don’t have to take the political demands of other LGBT people seriously. He drops hints that deep down, he hates queers as much as they do.
NO there is simply not any hatred for “LGBT people” in play here Milo does not “Hate Queers” either on the surface or deep down. His take on is is quite sane and very grown up He enjoys being a homosexual is the bottom line
One of his biggest applause lines in Eugene was the moment when he distanced himself from other gay men, averring that “the worst thing about being gays is other gays… They’re just such fucking fags.”
Its called being self deprecating and taking the piss out of your own subculture that Milo both endorses and celebrates
It’s all a bit like music hall for young tories: marginally risque but ultimately reassuring. It’s conservative all right, but not in the edgy way Yiannopoulos imagines it to be.
If only Wilson could understand that Conservatives are allowed to have a place in the polity that is not just to be the butt of progressive ire, and what Milo’s “Dangerous faggot tour” is really about is pointing out that conservatives no longer have to be hiding in the shadows of campus life any more, they don’t have to remain under the dishonest heel of political correctness , kowtowing to the craziness of third wave feminist nonsense
In fact he’s just one of a long line of performers who exist to endorse the whole slate of garden-variety petty bourgeois prejudices. It’s dull work, I imagine, but there’s a steady market for those who can give it fresh nuance.
For now, he appears to be on a roll. From his start as a Breitbart writer and gamergate troll, he’s energetically barged his way into the dress circle of rightwing celebrity.
Those over tight progressive underpants are in evidence again with this claim mainly because I don’t think that an Ideological warrior like Wilson cannot imagine that any legitimate criticism of progressivism is possible. Nor do I think that Wilson has any understanding of Gaming or the Gamergate movement he so casually dismisses. I asked him on twitter if he was a gamer and his response was to try to chnage the subject. so my guess is that his opinions all come from the likes of Anita Sarkesiain and those of her ilk rather than him having any experience of the subculture or the experience of gaming
He now rubs shoulders with the likes of Ann Coulter, with whom he shares a performative, post-Trump antipathy to established movement conservatism. He’s successfully positioned himself as a member of the “alt-right”, a movement for which he drafted a manifesto which also functions as an apologia for the open anti-semitism and racism of that community.
Hmm I simply don’t see the antisemitism that Wilson is claiming, in fact most of the antisemitism in the western polity comes form the left in their apologia for Islam and the Jihadists.something that I have seen Wilson himself flirts with on twitter where despite me giving him ample giving him ample opportunities to denounce the inherent bigotry of Islam he could not bring himself to admit that Islam is hateful to Gays or women.
(During the evening, he retails the anti-establishment sentiments which are themselves now de rigeur on the right, saying that “the Republican Party needs to be torn up, burnt to the ground and rebuilt”.)
The hustle has been competent enough to secure the greatest reward that a bogus generational spokesman can reap: a profile in the New York Times magazine. And now, he’s on a US tour, bringing his fabulous brand of bigotry to America’s universities.
If there is one thing that is fabulous its the way that Wilson portrays anyone who offers a counter to the “progressive narrative” as bigotry, Question the Black lives matter narrative and in Wilson’s view its bigotry, Question the silly claim that one in five students will be raped and its bigotry, In fact its seems clear to me he is just over invested in the “progressive” orthodoxy and he is terrified of having to rethink any of that he just digs his heels in and calls people names because its
In Eugene, around 350 prople show up (at DePaul, Breitbart claimed there were 500, but they have a habit of talking their employee up). A solid three quarters of those in attendance were men. Given Milo’s obsession with detailing what he sees the failings of women – especially feminists, lesbians, and those who aren’t thin – it’s no surprise that his events are such sausage-fests.
Would Wilson care if a Feminist had a predominately female audience or would he disparage a majority female audience as a “vag-fest” or some other derogatory term of a cohort of women ?
Indeed, the passages of the evening in which he talks about the many women that he doesn’t like are one of the few times that a genuine emotion – disgust – rises to the surface of his camp repartee.
When he describes lesbians as “horrendous, quivering masses of horror”, described feminism as “cancer”, he’s practically spitting. It’s the kind of vituperation you don’t usually employ unless you’ve encountered a real threat.
Like so many on the progressive side of politics Wilson has no sense of humor and no understanding that the anti-lesbian shtick is all part of Milo’s performance. As I have found in my own interactions with Wilson to him its inconceivable that any thing that a conservative says or does will not have some malign intention or purpose. Essentially he lacks any generosity towards conservatives and only sees them as a class enemy to be denounced.
I don’t know, or much care, whether Milo Yiannopoulos’s own contempt for women is a mask for fear. But he certainly appears to be answering to the fears of his audience.
This is utter rubbish from Wilson there is simply no reason to think that Milo has contempt for women nor does it follow that the audiences at his Dangerous faggot tour do either.
The sources of this disquiet are evident in the queues for the question and answer session, and later for selfies. It’s very clear in these moments that Milo’s core audience, his most devoted fans, are bewildered, young, reactionary, male nerds.
Once again Wilson shows his contempt for ordinary young men who have not taken up the progressive orthodoxy. That my friends is the core of the contradiction with in progressiveism It claims to be about inclusiveness and diversity unless you are a straight white man then you will be eternally the subject of scorn and derision
You get the vivid impression when you hear them talk that their antipathy to feminism has bloomed out of a much more intimate kind of frustration with the opposite sex. Unfortunately, they’ve come to the world’s worst source of dating advice.
Could anyone be more arrogant or more disparaging at a personal level than this? this is claim is all just an ad hom fallacy writ large
During question time, men ask for and recieve counsel about how to deal with feminists challenging them in their personal lives, and Yiannopoulos commiserated with them about “the oppressive hegemony of social justice”.
Although I have not attended one of these events I have watched several on Milo’s and other you tube channels and this characterization of the Q & A session is simply wrong and the questions and comments are as varied the people who attend
The whole ritual does no more than try to reverse the polarity of identity politics, insisting that actually, it’s white men who are oppressed. And the only way he can really make this case is to talk about class.
Wilson is correct that identity politics is a big issue for those who attend however in typical SJW style Wilson willfully misunderstands the arguments that are in play here. The point is not to try to seize a better place in the oppression hierarchy fro “white men” as he contends, but to dispute the entire social analysis of “oppression” that underpins the SJW notions of identity politics that would demonize every one who is straight, white and male.
Thus, he talks about the “awful, awful, terrible, diseased, and damaged people lecturing and hectoring the working class” who have “rightly had enough of it”, and whose only hope of salvation is “President Donald Trump”.
Here I can to some extend share Wilson’s concerns about the virtues of Donald Trump however I think that Wilson is sadly not detached enough from his left wing obsessions to understand why Trump is popular. What that popularity boils down to is a rather refreshing refusal to kowtow to the conventions of Political correctness and if there is one thing that those on the right appreciate its anyone who will slash through the bindings that have come from identity politics and the deathly fear of giving offense, But to explore this topic in more detail I suggest that you go to this article which also looks at Milo’s Trump shows but it does so with a far more even hand.
The problem – apart from the fact that this is delivered in an upper-middle class British accent, and that his audience are mostly college kids – is that he’s not really offering the working class anything except the permission to dish out racial slurs and minimise rape culture.
To be frank I don’t buy into Wilson’s Marxist assumption that the audience are what would be “working class” or that Milo being English or “upper class” makes a blind bit of difference to cut though to his audience. This is an audience who have grown up with the cultural diversity of YouTube and they simply do not care about Milo’s accent. Now would college students be what we in Australia would call working class because they (or their parents) are all paying to go to the colleges and that takes enough resources to place those audience members well and truly into the middle classes
He boasts about the scholarship scheme he’s set up for underprivileged boys, but he has nothing to say about the economy except hints of support for a Trumpian economic nationalism.
Why on earth does Wilson think that Milo should be any sort of economist?
In another hackneyed move, Yiannopoulos posits the “Working class” not as a product of structural economic inequality but as another kind of political identity, one that expresses itself in salty language and low-level sexual harassment.
Here I can’t honestly do better than recommend the Why people love Trump piece I previously linked to because it looks at the subject free from Wilson’s arrogant disdain for Milo and his audience.
This is the kind of caricature you can only believe in if you don’t actually know that many working-class people. Like every other right wing hack, Milo absolutely depends on the angst of wounded identity, and its quest for an alternative victimhood.
I am rather fond of arguing for a certain generosity when you discuss politics, that sort of generosity would have prevented Wilson’s unshakable urge to demonize anyone who is snot singing from the progressive play book as he does here. The thing that Wilson seems to miss entirely here is that its not about seeking “victimhood” at all its about saying instead that the labels and characterizations of the SJW narrative are nonsense, broken and or wrong.
The working class he spins fantasies about are exclusively white, because like every right wing hack, his principal concern is activating white male resentment. This rhetoric was developed precisely to divide the working class, and to keep them in their place.
The problem for Wilson here is that Milo is not working from the Marxist lens that he himself see’s the world through. No is it about something as negative as activation of anyone’s resentment. Its all about saying that we are all individuals rather than just being elements in one group identity or another, its the classic libertarian positions that Milo is drawing on here, ones that value individual enterprise and self reliance. Sadly for a Marxist like Wilson this is just incomprehensible.
At one point Yiannopoulos offers something of a credo: “The only way to respond to outrage culture is to be outrageous”. It’s handy because it’s a good cover story for pursuing his real goal, which is no more or less than the getting of attention.
Milo makes no secret of his love of social provocation and were he of the left rather than the right I am rather sure that Wilson would find this behavior to be praise worthy because like a lot of lefties he thinks that social transgression belongs to his side of politics
But Milo Yiannopoulos is not outrageous, nor is he of himself especially dangerous. He’s just a wanker. When the Trump wave recedes, he may in time be regarded, along with the rest of the flotsam it deposited, as a curiosity. More likely, he’ll return to the mean and become one more right wing talking head in a perennially shallow talent pool.
Wilson is particularly humorless when it comes to anyone not from his own left wing tribe and here is a perfect example of his lack political generosity that puts him very much into the authoritarian left. Its obvious to anyone else that the title of Milo’s “Dangerous Faggot” tour is meant to be ironic and trangressive to the SJW tropes about the use of language as with the word “queer” Milo seeks to reclaim the word “faggot” here by taking what was a term of derision and making it something positive
The ideas he promotes are damaging, of course. He talks a lot about “the public square”, but the fruit borne of his adolescent attacks on feminism are likely to play out in more private spaces, where the most important negotiations about sex, consent, and equality happen.
But its not all of feminism that Milo rails against its just the man hating third wave feminism that has blossomed in contentment universities over the last couple of decades that actively seeks out offense and it is that brand of feminism that Milo describes as Cancer
God help the woman whose partner is a Milo fan. At the very best, she’ll have to listen to this horseshit on a loop. At worst, she’ll be living with someone who has the tools to rationalise selfishness, abuse, and even sexual assault.
Pardon me? Is Wilson really suggesting that being a Milo fan is tantamount to being a wife beater? a rapist even? How shallow is Wilson?
What’s perhaps not considered often enough how much damage this nonsense does to those men who take it seriously. For one thing, it allows them to put off the day on which they grow up, and realise that the women who won’t sleep with them aren’t persecuting them, but making the kinds of choices characteristic of autonomous human beings.
No Jason that is utter nonsense. Men who “listen” to the argument against the SJW tropes do not become monsters and its not at all about disaffection because these men can’t get laid. In fact there is no evidence at all that those on the right are any less successful at finding sexual partners than Wilson’s fellow lefties. Nor is he correct to assume that those men on the libertarian right don’t see women as anything less that fully autonomous individuals just like themselves That he thinks otherwise is actually a sad artifact of his own collectivist thinking.
So as derivative as this whole enterprise is, it may cause problems. What’s to be done?
DePaul’s progressives had one strategy – protest – which I do not plan to gainsay. That’s a decision for local activists to make based on what’s happening on their campus.
So left wing “protest goo”d in Wilson’s mind
There’s been more than enough hippie-punching in recent months directed at those who protest at public events that attract the far right, and I don’t propose to add to it. Protesting serves many purposes: publicly articulating common positions, building comradeship, and making claims or counter-claims on public space. There should be more of it.
Unless of course its anti SJW protest, then its bad and should be confronted.. Hmm OK
It’s true, though, that on those occasions like the night in Eugene, where he is not met by protesters, Milo seems forlorn. His schtick goes limp; he’s revealed as a one-trick pony.
When a young man, identifying himself as a feminist, spoke up against him, Milo whisked him onto the stage for an extended chat. Briefly, the evening was enlivened, though no one was enlightened, because Milo doesn’t argue in good faith. But he knows that the audience comes for the fireworks.
This bit of Wilson’s piece shows just how little this left wing warrior respects the core value of democracy which revolves around a robust exchange of ideas. That Milo is willing to engage with and debate his opponents is not just “schtick ” its an example of his confidence in his argument. Nor is it ever the case that democratic discussions ore as one dimensional as Wilson implies here. There is simply nothing wrong or awry for a polemicist to make their events entertaining with a little bit of drama. Wilson needs to lighten up a great deal.
Absent opposition, it’s harder to convince supporters that he’s bravely overturning PC shibboleths and taking it to the SJWs.
Not in the age of social media it isn’t even if the event at Portland was lacking in “fireworks” ( it has been the exception rather than the rule for the “Dangerous faggot tour”) all that it shows is that the SJWs there are rather less bolshie than at other universities on the itinerary
Perhaps the decision by students at the University of California, Irvine, to offer a counter-event to Milo’s visit offers a promising way to deal with this nuisance.
When it comes to the right, “ignore them and they’ll go away” is generally bad advice, but skipping the Milo show, and using it as to build something positive sounds like something that could also build the left ahead of the Summer of Trump.
Thus Wilson ends with whimper here rather than a roar but that is hardly surprising given that Wilson has done nothing but give us an an extended ad hominiem attack on both Milo Yiannopoulos and the young Trump supporters who have been finding the Gay man so engaging. To Wilson they are just the class enemy rather than men and women who have as much right as his fellow lefties to be involved with the issues and debates about their society. In fact Wilson’s piece is an almost perfect example of why Donald Trump is more than likely to be elected President. What we are seeing here is a whole movement of young people who are refusing to see that the SJW emperor is wearing a fine well tailored set of threads. They are trusting their senses and they are daring to speak the truth about the regressive left’s saggy arse that is in the breeze on so many issues, Things like the Myth of “rape culture” and other third wave feminist tropes are being seen clearly and actively denounced, Likewise the willful blindness about the ideology of Islam that I have found Wilson himself guilty of is something that more and more people are no long willing to accept, especially after the horrendous slaughter at the Pulse night club. Finally though I just want to say that this essay is not intended to be any sort of personal attack on Wilson himself I have brought this humble blog out of its hiatus in part because I want to demonstrate to Jason Wilson that I have read and understood his piece but mainly I wanted to substantiate my suggestion to him on twitter that the “Why people love Trump” is a far better piece of journalism than the missive I have been considering here.
Very good speech form Tony Abbott
recommended viewing Comrades
Sadly Pat is 110% correct here
I was quite taken by Helen Dale’s argument here:
Helen Dale 23 January 11:08
“I hate to break it to you, but we are not all Charlie.
The reason is simple: Charlie Hebdo was consistent in its support for freedom of speech. Its editors were not just targeted by Islamists: they’d been hauled through the French courts (where they won) and were figures of hate to both the French extreme right and conservative Catholics.
Charlie Hebdo had been out on a limb for years, true to the freewheeling anti-clericalism that owes its origins to the protests of 1968. Charb, its editor, refused to buckle.
The rest of us – with the partial exception of the United States – have buckled. There are widespread restrictions on speech, in France and elsewhere. Australia has 18C, among many others.
“Hate speech” laws are frequently based on the supposition that hate speech has the same effect as the common law offence of incitement. Incitement requires a demonstrable effect on the intended audience. Burning a cross on a black family’s front lawn, for example, amounts to incitement to commit acts of violence against that family.
It’s also important to remember hate speech laws are akin to the definition of “advocating terrorism” in the national security legislation. Because – as George Brandis told me last year – incitement is difficult to prove, governments look for other ways to restrict speech. “Advocating terrorism” in the Foreign Fighters legislation removes the requirement for demonstrable impact.
At the heart of criminalising “hate speech” is an empirical claim: that what an individual consumes in the media has a direct effect on his or her subsequent behaviour. That is, words will lead directly to deeds.
But because this is untrue – playing Grand Theft Auto and watching porn hasn’t led to an epidemic of car thefts and sexual assault – justifications for laws such as 18C and hate speech laws now turn on the notion that offence harms “dignity” and “inclusion”. Obviously, dignity and inclusion can’t be measured, while crime rates can.
Support for dignity and inclusion produces weird arguments – white people are not supposed to satirise minorities, for example. Sometimes, legislation is used – bluntly – to define what is funny.
Allowing what is “hateful” or “offensive” to be defined subjectively, as 18C does – and not according to the law’s usual objective standard (the reasonable person) – means “offence” is in the eye of the beholder. It enables people who are vexatious litigants and professional victims to complain about comments the rest of us would laugh off.
Tim Wilson, Australia’s Freedom Commissioner, has already argued18C ensures an Australian Charlie Hebdo would be litigated to death. Despite the fact 18C refers only to race, Tony Abbott’s justification for backing down on repeal was to preserve “national unity” with Australia’s Muslim community. This conflates religion with race in the crudest possible way.
This conflation is what leads to the coining of nonsense terms such as “Islamophobia”. “Homophobia” actually means something, because being homosexual is an inherent characteristic, not a choice. Islam is an idea, and it is perfectly reasonable to be afraid of an idea.
18C is far from the only potential constraint. The equivalent Victorian legislation explicitly takes in religion as well as race. A smart lawyer would bring suit in Victoria, because Charlie Hebdo would probably be caught there.
The confusion of religion for race is so pervasive – even in the US, where people ought to know better – that French people across the political spectrum have been forced to point out – while France does indeed have “hate speech” laws – they are used to protect characteristics that people cannot change, such as being black or gay.
“We do not conflate religion and race. We are the country of Voltaire and Diderot: religion is fair game” French left radical Olivier Tonneau wrote in response to repeated claims that attacking Muhammad or Islam was racist.
Apart from being unsupported by anything approaching evidence, hate speech laws have serious unintended consequences. Recently, British polling firm YouGov surveyed British attitudes to Muslims and discovered Britons see Islam negatively, but are unwilling to say so.
In other words, governments and law enforcement have to rely on anonymised polls conducted by private firms to find out what people really think.
It’s not maintainable to have partial freedom of speech. The fact that most Western countries now do makes what little freedom we still have harder to defend. Muslims who respect arguments for free speech can’t help but notice our inconsistencies. Anyone who thinks they don’t notice is guilty of treating people who profess a certain faith like children.
We won’t be Charlie until we have purged 18C, its state-based equivalents and the illiberal national security legislation from the nation’s statute books.”
So what do my readers think about this?
Pat on the money yet again…
As is David Wood
I have been rather slack about posting to this blog of late, for a couple a reasons, firstly its the season for spending more time with the family , secondly I have been far more focused on my car projects , in particular getting my sports car sorted and fitted with a new manual transmission because the auto I had in it was sounding like a bag of nails and running very badly. having to make a clutch peddle and ensure it works properly took longer than I expected and then I also had to alter the gearshift so that I falls conveniently to hand. The wrenching gods even made the speedo cable a problem as the corolla cable had an incomparable fitting for my Smiths speedo. I solved that one with a short length of fuel line and some hose claps to splice the last inches of my existing cable outer to the end of the Corolla cable.
Any way its time to get back too it but I just feel compelled to share this picture that was posted to my face book time line:
Its nice to see that companies are waking up the the “halal” scam and not letting the politically correct ninnies extort them into endorsing the pernicious ideology of Islam.